Using a Mercedes engine with all the latest updates Mercedes could muster, Lewis Hamilton easily won the pole for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza with a lap of 1m23.397s. It was the 7th straight pole position, and 11th in 12 2015 races for Hamilton who had the latest incarnation of the dominant Mercedes engine.
The Ferrari duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel gave the partisan Tifosi an exciting battle for second place, with the Finn edging the German by five-hundredths. Raikkonen, who was only a 1/4 of a second behind the World Champion, will start second tomorrow with Vettel third. While it will be an uphill battle for the victory tomorrow, the Ferrari pair seemed upbeat as they continue to close the gap ever so slightly to Mercedes.
|Vettel and Raikkonen aim to pressure Hamilton on Sunday|
Hamilton's teammate Nico Rosberg could only manage fourth on the grid. Rosberg was supposed to run the latest generation Mercedes like Hamilton, but was forced to change to the older model. Williams' Felipe Massa rounded out the top-five.
Nico Rosberg claimed that his lack of pace during qualifying at Monza was due to his old engine, but Niki Lauda begged to differ.
The German's new-spec power unit (PU) suffered a failure during FP3 on Saturday morning and Mercedes decided to put an old engine in his car ahead of qualy.
While his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who had the new-spec PU at his disposal, went on to claim his 11th pole position of the season, Rosberg could only manage P4 as Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were also faster than him.
Rosberg was adamant afterwards that his woes were down to the old engine.
"We had to go back to an engine that has done six races now and, every kilometer, you lose a bit of power so," he told Sky Sports. "Especially at a track like Monza, the absolute power track where you need a good engine, so it's very disappointing to have it happen here.
"It's a very big compromise and the reason why I am fourth today, which makes the race tomorrow tough as I will be slower in the race tomorrow as well. That's not ideal and will be difficult against those Ferraris."
However, Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda believes Rosberg just couldn't come to grips with the handling of the car.
"Nico was not down on power, he had handling problems – too much understeer, he complained about it," he is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. "He couldn't get the car to handle properly for his way of driving and this made a huge difference."
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:23.397): "Ferrari did a great job. They're very close here and it'll be a good fight. In terms of my lap, it was good but not perfect. My Spa qualifying lap was definitely better. But the car has felt good all weekend and the crew have been fantastic as always. The guys in the garage did an amazing job to turn Nico's car around after practice. I don't know what the problem was but I'm not concerned for tomorrow. Pole is always a great feeling but there's a long way down to turn one and Ferrari are strong off the line. Last year I didn't have a good start and had to fight hard so nothing is done yet. We've shown strong pace in our long run simulations though so hopefully we can keep that up tomorrow in the race."
Nico Rosberg (4th, 1:23.703): "First of all, a big thanks to the boys in the garage for getting the car ready just in time for Qualifying. I had a good session and my laps felt quite good. But unfortunately, after the problem in FP3, I had to run an old engine which had already been used for five race weekends so I had a small lack of power. With every kilometer you lose a bit of power and Monza is a power track where the engine has a big impact. It will be tough tomorrow, as I will probably also be a bit slower in the race because of that. But I will never give up. I have to fight for a great start and hope to overtake the two Ferraris in front of me quickly to give myself a chance of catching Lewis. So, a disappointing and unlucky afternoon – but there is still a lot to play for tomorrow."
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Paddy Lowe: "An exciting qualifying session, if not the complete result we were hoping for. Unfortunately we had a problem with the engine in Nico's car at the end of FP3, so we reverted back to the Power Unit he ran in Spa – which is already five races old. The team did a fantastic job to turn the car around in time to run trouble-free right from the start of qualifying, so all credit to the mechanics for their excellent work. When it came to the qualifying battle ourselves, Ferrari and Williams showed particularly good pace, which made for a tense contest that had built up through the three sessions. Lewis then produced another top quality lap to take another pole position, so a big congratulations to him. With Nico starting from fourth and the competition looking close, we should be set for an entertaining race tomorrow and we look forward to that."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "First of all, I want to congratulate Lewis on a fantastic pole position – his seventh in a row, which is close to record territory. He has been on strong form this weekend and showed that through every part of qualifying, too. But it's a bittersweet feeling today because of the problem we suffered with Nico. I want to congratulate the boys in the garage for an amazing job to change his engine between practice and qualifying, after we suffered the problem at the end of this morning's session. But it certainly sent Nico into qualifying on the back foot, using a Power Unit that has already completed five races, and he wasn't happy with the car balance either, suffering from quite a lot of understeer. In the circumstances, he did an excellent job. We didn't achieve our potential today and, as we saw, we have a very strong rival in Ferrari. We can expect an exciting but challenging race tomorrow afternoon."
Daniil Kvyat (14th, 1:25.796): "I am not sure where we're going to start from for the race, we'll see once all the penalties are applied. We need a good race tomorrow to try and make up some places. It's a long race and we have to keep pushing and fighting to move up the order. We will try and put ourselves in the points, it won't be easy at this track, but we'll make the most out of it. We'll see what we can do."
Daniel Ricciardo (15th, No Time): "We had a new engine in the car this morning that lasted a handful of laps. I think the boys in the garage did the world's quickest engine change to get the car out for Q1. The previous best was about two hours and I think the boys have just done it in 1 hour and 40 minutes. To do one lap was already a victory – the boys are absolute legends. I think everyone cheered when I drove out of the box and I was pretty happy with the lap. We'll be starting from the back tomorrow and we'll try to make up some places. The positive aspect is I like overtaking and at this track you can do it, so I'm looking forward to the challenges tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Despite all the penalties that we will be incurring this weekend, our grid positions were inevitable. The most rewarding thing about qualifying today was the astonishing effort from the crew in the garage that resulted in such a quick engine change. Both sides of the garage got stuck into it and it was teamwork at its best. Our biggest result today was seeing the team performing an engine change at that speed. Strategically we know we're going to be starting from the back of the grid so we've been setting our car up accordingly and hopefully we can make some progress tomorrow."
Felipe Massa (5th, 1:23.940): "Ferrari were maybe a little bit too quick today, and even with a perfect lap it would have been difficult to match them. I'm still happy with our performance and where we are. Power is very important on this circuit so we may be able to fight with Nico (Rosberg) but it is a long race. I have my sights on the podium but most importantly we must have a good race, scores some valuable points and make sure we make no mistakes."
Valtteri Bottas (6th, 1:24.127): "It wasn't a perfect qualifying as I didn't get a great slipstream in the final lap. I think fifth and sixth was the maximum as the Ferraris were just a bit out reach. Tomorrow is a new day and we will certainly do everything we can to challenge them. The race pace looks strong so I am after a good result."
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: "From a championship point of view I am happy with the result. We stressed to the team that we needed to get Qualifying perfect today, and they have all done a great job to make sure we were competing for the front rows whilst keeping clear of the rest of the field. The cars have been set-up well for qualifying and the race. We will not give up tomorrow in the fight for the podium and can really help our championship with a strong result."
|Raikkonen to start 2nd|
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd, 1:23.631): "It was the best qualifying of the year, I'm happy for all the team and the people who support us. This was the perfect time for us: obviously we'd like to get such a good result at every race, but if I have to choose one it's here. Today was a good day, it gives us a good chance for the race, but this doesn't mean that tomorrow we can beat everybody. We need to do a good job. I'm a bit surprised because we knew our weaknesses and the layout of this track, but everything worked well and we were closer to Mercedes than we what we expected. It's impossible to say what's going to happen tomorrow, obviously our aim is to make a good start then go safely into the first corner, do the maximum and hopefully we'll be able to challenge. We'll try to do our best and see how it ends up."
Sebastian Vettel (3rd, 1:23.685): "I'm very happy, not entirely with my lap as I made a bit of mistake in Lesmo 1, but for the fantastic result it is for the team. It puts us in a great position for tomorrow: it's a bit of a surprise to be so close to Mercedes today, but we have to wait and see tomorrow. We know that they will be very strong in the race and they will be the ones to beat if we want to win, but maybe with all the power from the tifosi we can have a surprise. This time is very different for me compared to the previous years I've been here: when you're driving you can see people clapping and cheering, pushing and supporting you and it's fantastic. Inside and outside the track there are so many fans: for us this is the most special race of the calendar."
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Jenson Button (16th, 1:26.058): "The balance in qualifying was reasonably okay, but I had too much understeer in the car. The first run felt good, and the track usually grips up, so I added some front wing, but it was probably half of what was needed. It was a reasonable lap, but even if everything had been perfect, we still didn't have the pace to bridge the three-tenths to make it through into Q2. It's a shame, but we always knew this would be a tough race for us. Even with a good start, we won't be able to hold people back in the race – because we're not fast enough in a straight line – so they'll pass us. I'm not sure that tomorrow will be too exciting for us, but we'll do our best. The fans have been so supportive at a difficult time – I hope we can repay them soon."
Fernando Alonso (17th, 1:26.154): "Getting knocked out of Q1 was a bit frustrating. However, this is a period of learning for the entire team, and we need to go work through it together. You can't seize every race weekend as an opportunity, you have to work through them and learn. We know we're not in the best position – we're not competitive right now – so we need to keep working in every area to improve the car. Nevertheless, this is always a special weekend; the fans have been very friendly and welcoming. It always feels good to race in front of the tifosi."
Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "Yet again failing to make it out of Q1 is difficult and disappointing for the entire team. So I must give thanks to everyone for maintaining their positivity and motivation, not least Fernando and Jenson, who are a credit to our organization. Our sponsors and fans deserve a big shout-out too – thanks guys. Tomorrow is likely to be a difficult race for us. Although we won't start from the very back – owing to the grid penalties that will relegate four cars to starting positions behind us – it'll be tough to make progress tomorrow along Monza's notoriously long, fast straights. Still, our drivers will race their hearts out, and anything can happen at Monza."
Yasuhisa Arai, Honda: "We knew coming into Monza that it was going to be a difficult race, as the drivers are on full throttle for most of the lap. We utilized yesterday's results to find a good set-up for the aero, chassis and the power unit, but as the ERS assist on the straight line is still lacking, qualifying was extremely difficult. In race conditions, however, the energy management use is different, so, as a team, we hope to see some improvement."
Sergio Perez (7th, 1:24.626): "I am pretty happy with the job I did today in qualifying. I was able to improve my time in every session and each lap was pretty good. In Q3 I was a bit too optimistic and tried to get a tow from Kimi on the straight but it didn't work: it actually cost me a couple of tenths but in any case it wouldn't have been enough to be in front of the two Williams cars. The race will be hard, but our target should be to challenge Williams ahead of us. The b-spec car has been performing solidly in the past few races so I see no reason why we shouldn't be in a position to have a good performance tomorrow. A good start will be crucial as the strategy options are quite straightforward; one of the keys of the race will be tire degradation, but I am confident we will be strong and score good points."
Nico Hulkenberg (9th, 1:25.317): "It's good to be in the top ten, but without the problems in Q3 there was the potential to be much higher up the grid. I just lost power on my in-lap following my first run on used tires, which was caused by a problem with the fuel system. I made it back to the pits, but the mechanics had to push me back to the garage and we lost a lot of time. When we tried to restart the car, the gearbox was stuck in between two gears and I couldn't select neutral in time to get out again for a lap on new softs. It's a shame because I think sixth or seventh place was possible today. I'm sure we will fix these issues for tomorrow, but grid position is important here so it's going to be a bit more difficult starting from ninth. The midfield is looking very competitive and some of the teams have stepped up their game since yesterday. We will have to fight hard to get the points we need."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "We've shown a lot of promise since the start of practice and in that sense it's satisfying to see both cars through to Q3. Sergio is up in seventh and did a good job despite not being totally happy with the balance of the car. Nico was just as competitive as Sergio and without the fuel system problem I'm sure he would have been several places higher up the grid. It means he's out of position slightly, but with solid race pace he can hopefully progress tomorrow. The priority is to have a clean race and pick up good points."
Carlos Sainz (13th, 1:25.618): "It's a bit of a frustrating weekend because of the grid-penalties for tomorrow's race, but at least today we were able to extract the maximum out of the car. Actually the car is feeling great! It's just a shame that we have so many grid-position penalties and not enough power. It's going to be a very interesting race tomorrow and I expect a fun fight at the start, as the last six cars on the grid are myself and Max, both Red Bull cars and two world champions like Button and Alonso. I hope we can still end up fighting for some points even if it's not going to be easy, but that's our target."
Max Verstappen (20th, No Time): "I expected it to be a difficult qualifying session today, as we had to change the engine in between sessions. The team worked very hard and did a great job in doing it in time. To be honest, it was a surprise that we were even able to drive out before the end of Q1… and they did it! I'd like to say thank you for the big effort. Ok, we all saw that some bodywork came off the car when I was out on track, but you have to understand that they always try their best, they wanted me to get out there and these things sometimes happen when you are on the limit, fighting against time. Tomorrow's race needs a lot of overtaking again, so I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun. Our race pace doesn't look that bad compared to Red Bull, and we will also fight with the McLaren's at the start. Hopefully we can also challenge Sauber, and then see what else we are capable of doing…Let's see!"
James Key, Technical Director: "We always knew that today was going to be a bit of a compromise for us with the engine penalties for both drivers. Therefore, what we decided to do for FP3 was concentrate on the race and not so much on qualifying performance, so we hadn't actually done any form of low-fuel running at all until a few laps in qualy. We learned a little bit more about the car this morning and both drivers are happy with the car in high-fuel loads. For qualifying it was clear that in reality we were fighting for the last places on the grid because of the number of penalties that we are taking together with a few other teams, so there was little point in using tire sets to try and make progress. It was a case of giving Carlos a chance to be as high as possible, as his number of penalties are similar to others. Unfortunately for Max, we had to fit a new engine between FP3 and qualifying. The mechanics did an absolutely outstanding job to get that done in such a short time, because we felt it was extremely unlikely we'd make the session at all, we wanted to try and get a short run or installation lap in for Max to ensure all was ok with the car. Sadly, there seems to have been a bit of an issue with the bodywork, we are investigating to understand how this happened. We will have to see how the penalties for tomorrow's race pan out now. Clearly we will have a lot of work to do but we are actually looking forward to the race, trying to work our way through the traffic and see what we can do. Both our drivers are super motivated and the team is as well, and our high-fuel pace looked quite reasonable, so it's a case of taking on the challenge and doing as much as we can!"
Romain Grosjean (8th, 1:25.054): "It's quite positive in way when you say that you are disappointed with qualifying in eighth position but it wasn't a perfect Q3 session for us and we have to analyze why we didn't have the pace to be further up the order. It's a long race tomorrow and there are opportunities to overtake here so there's definitely good potential for scoring a nice collection of points."
Pastor Maldonado (11th, 1:24.525): "For sure I was expecting to be in the top ten but I've been struggling to get temperature into the tires and I didn't get very clean laps in Q2 so we lost out by a very small margin. The track changed a lot from this morning and the warmer weather made the rear very nervous. In the race we have an extra set of fresh tires and we are in a very strong position to fight for good points, I think the top five is possible."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We have potential for a strong race. It went fairly well and we're glad to get Romain through to Q3. Pastor narrowly missed out unfortunately but he'll start from a decent position and will have a new set of tires so he should be able to come through in the race and score some good points. Both drivers were swapping times all morning in FP3 and this afternoon in qualifying so the two cars are very evenly matched here; it just didn't come to Pastor at the right time. We're aiming to get both cars well into the points tomorrow; and we're looking forward to a good battle with Force India in the race. The cars qualified very closely together and we're competing for fifth in the Championship. It should be an interesting fight."
Will Stevens (18th, 1:27.731): "We continue to have a strong weekend here, which is nice. My lap was good; not perfect. I think we could have improved time-wise, but not in terms of our position. Nonetheless, we're improving all the time and these small gains leave us better placed to take advantage of opportunities when they do arise. I'm really excited about the race. When all the penalties are applied we'll be starting in a good position again, but we'll need to keep it tidy into turn 1 here to avoid getting squeezed, and damage, like we did in Spa."
Roberto Merhi (19th, 1:27.912): "I'm pretty happy with my lap and nice to be enjoying a close fight with my team-mate. We have the car in a good place in terms of the set-up, and our grid positions will improve because of the penalties, so the aim is to keep things close with Will and get a good team result again."
John Booth, Team Principal: "We've had another good day today, which leaves us well-placed for what should be an interesting race tomorrow. With the expectation of several cars lining up behind us, and the very tight chicane of turns 1 and 2, the start could be tricky. It's nice to see Will and Roberto so close yet again; shades of their 1-2 battle in World Series here last year. I'm sure they will be pushing each other hard tomorrow."
Marcus Ericsson (10th, 1:26.214): "Overall it has been a good day. We have shown a strong performance in qualifying and reached Q3. Everyone has done a good job. We have gone in the right direction in terms of the set-up of the car, with qualifying being the strongest session throughout the weekend. I am pretty pleased with that, even though on my run in Q3 I made a mistake, so I could have done a better lap. In the end we made it into the top ten so have good chances to score points tomorrow."
Felipe Nasr (12th, 1:24.898): "First of all, the balance of the car felt good, and I was able to extract the most out of the it. I was quite confident about making it into Q3, but on my second run in Q2 I made a mistake which forced me to abort this lap. Nevertheless, it is a good starting position in order to score points."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "Well done by the team – finishing in the top ten in qualifying is a good performance. Therefore, we achieved what we expected so far. Although Marcus was given a penalty, these are promising positions to fight for points tomorrow. Now it is important that we maximize our opportunities."
|7||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Force India/Mercedes||1:24.626||1.229s|
|9||Nico Hulkenberg||Germany||Force India/Mercedes||1:25.317||1.920s|
|15||Jenson Button||Australian||McLaren/Honda||No Time||2.661s|
|17||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Toro Rosso/Renault||1:26.154||2.221s|
|18||Daniil Kvyat||Britain||Red Bull/Renault||1:27.731||2.399s|
|19||Daniel Ricciardo||Spain||Red Bull/Renault||1:27.912||–|
|20||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Toro Rosso/Renault||No Time||–|
engine-change penalties for Sainz, Kvyat, Button, Alonso, Verstappen, Ricciardo